Poems & Essays

29 Jan

Para todas las mamas

General/Column 2 Responses

whose hearts have been cleaved
in two by border walls

when they pass at night in secret
without papers, their bebés left behind

in the arms of las abuelas, the hope of
una vida diferente, una vida mejor

the siren call that leads them to the walls
topped with barbed wires that catch

at their still-beating hearts as they climb
up and over, leave trails of blood through

the desert, finger rosaries and chant
Un rato, no más y regreso, just a short time,

and I’ll return, raw fingers scrub hotel toilets,
wash crusty restaurant dishes in scalding water,

pluck feathers in turkey plants, the stench of death
in their nostrils, bend and pick sugar beets

fourteen hours a day under the brutal sun. Live with
ten people in a one-bedroom apartment, eat tortillas,

only tortillas, spend no money, wire it all to
la abuela to pay school fees, buy a Barbie, shiny black

shoes, a white lace dress. Talk on the phone, Tu mami
te ama, princesa. Pronto, pronto nos veremos, si Diós

quiere. Te prometo, mijita. Te prometo. One day
we will pass through the wall. Like ghosts, we will pass.


Jennifer Hernandez lives in the Minneapolis area where she teaches middle school ESL, wrangles three sons and writes for her sanity. Her work has appeared recently in Mothers Always Write, Silver Birch Press, Talking Stick and Visual Verse. She has performed her poetry at a non-profit garage, a bike shop filled with taxidermy and in the kitchen for her children, who are probably her toughest audience.

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Would you like to join the discussion? Feel free to contribute!

  1. Anne

    January 30, 2016 at 2:11 am

    A tribute to undocumented love wrapped in a carefully wrought image. This one makes my heart ache in all the right places.

    • Jennifer Lundstrom Hernandez

      January 30, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      Thank you, Anne. Your kind comment is a poem in itself!


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